More Estoril press release previews from the teams:
SIMONCELLI READY TO MAKE UP FOR JEREZ DISAPPOINTMENT AS AOYAMA LOOKS TO BUILD ON BEST EVER RESULT
After a long break caused by the postponement of the Grand Prix of Japan the MotoGP World Championship gets back underway this weekend at Estoril. Team San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli travels to Portugal looking for the kind of result that slipped through his fingers at Jerez. It was at Estoril last year where "Super Sic" began a run of late season form that he has carried through into this campaign. He missed the podium by a fraction of a second on that occasion but it now seems a matter of time before the Italian celebrates his first MotoGP victory. Marco's record in the smaller classes at Estoril is also impressive, finishing on the 250cc podium in 2008 and winning the intermediate category race in 2009. Hopes are high for Hiroshi Aoyama too, the Japanese rider narrowly missing out on the podium himself in the last race at Jerez. Fourth place was his best MotoGP result so far and a timely boost in confidence as he looks to consolidate his place amongst the best riders in the category. Estoril is considered by many to be the fifth home race of the season for the Spanish riders because of the volume of supporters that make their way across the border. Its position on the westernmost point of Europe makes it prone to unpredictable weather and both wind and rain are common factors at this race.
Marco Simoncelli "I still have a bitter taste in my mouth from Jerez. I was having a great race and the crash obviously wasn't what I wanted, it was a real shame. I know I will have the chance to make up for it though because I know I am fast and have a good feeling with a competitive bike. I have made progress and so have the team, we are getting on better and better and I am sure we will soon be celebrating together because everything is in place. It has been a long break and I have had time to go with my friends and 'finish off the ski season' before getting into some serious training ahead of Estoril. I had my best result of last season in Portugal and just missed out on the podium so this time I want to be on it. I like the track a lot, I won there in 250cc in 2009 and was on the podium the previous season. I am confident we can have a good weekend."
Hiroshi Aoyama "The result at Jerez was an important confidence boost for me. The conditions were particulary difficult but I managed to keep things under control from lap to lap. My only regret is that I was a little too careful with my overtaking in the early stages of the race otherwise I could have been on the podium but overall I am happy. Apart from a crash in the dry we established a good feeling with the bike and that gives me high hopes for Estoril. I have stayed in Europe over the break and just trained hard for the next race. Estoril is not an easy circuit because of the unpredictable weather conditions. The wind is a real problem and unexpected rain showers can make things really difficult. Hopefully this weekend it stays nice."
Fausto Gresini "After the race at Jerez I am more convinced than ever that Team San Carlo Honda Gresini have two riders capable of giving us a lot to celebrate in 2011. Honda have given us a competitive bike and both Simoncelli and Aoyama are very determined. Marco was unlucky in Spain but he showed his potential. Now he is ready to fight with the best riders in the class and a top result is around the corner. He has made huge progress along with his crew and he's going to be fun to watch. Hiroshi was solid at Jerez and he managed the conditions very well to bring home an important result. It is a confidence boost for him and he will also soon be amongst the frontrunners in MotoGP. The whole of Team San Carlo Honda Gresini is calm in the knowledge that we can be fighting for top results every week. It is a return to the good old days for us and we now have the enthusiasm to go along with the professionalism we have always shown."
PIRRO LOOKS FOR MORE AT ESTORIL AS TAKAHASHI RACES IN MEMORY OF HIS BROTHER KOKI
When the Moto2 engines fire up at Estoril this weekend it will be almost a month since they were switched off at Jerez. The postponement of the Grand Prix of Japan due to the tragic earthquake and tsunami have meant a lengthy break from World Championship action, during which time Yuki Takahashi has suffered a personal tragedy with the loss of his brother Koki, who died in a road accident on the 23rd April. Yuki has decided to race this weekend because it is what is brother would have wanted and although it won't be easy for him he is determined to ride in his honour. Michele Pirro, meanwhile, remains determined to establish himself amongst the best riders in the class.
Yuki Takahashi "I am so sad at the moment it is hard for me to even think back to the last race at Jerez or wonder what I might be capable of at Estoril. No doubt I will take to the track with Koki in my mind. He was only 23 and I want to race in his honour. That is what he would have wanted so I will do everything in my power to cope with it."
Michele Pirro "I am really upset by the tragedy that has befallen my team-mate. It is a sad moment and I want to do anything I can to help Yuki get through this difficult time. I wasn't totally satisfied with the result at Jerez because I feel I could have done better but I tried my hardest in the conditions. We gathered a lot of data over the weekend that the engineers will be able to use to improve the bike for Estoril. I have been training really hard during the break and I feel in good shape for Estoril, a circuit where I went quite well during the winter tests. I am confident I can be amongst the front of the Moto2 field."
Fausto Gresini "There are no words to reflect the tragedy of such a young death. It is a very sad time and the whole team will be supporting Yuki. It is a great pleasure to have him with us at Estoril and we hope he can honour his brother Koki in the best possible way. Pirro has to continue with the positive progress he has already made and I am sure he will be amongst the frontrunners in Moto2. We have a great team with two fast riders and I am sure we will have plenty to celebrate over the course of the season. We have a great relationship with Moriwaki and together we will enjoy success in Moto2."
HONDA RACING INFORMATION
2011 FIM ROAD RACING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP GRAND PRIX
ROUND03 APRIL 29/30 MAY 01 ESTORIL, PORTUGAL
PREVIEW MOTOGP AND MOTO2
HONDA MOTOGP MEN READY TO GET BACK TO RACING
The Honda MotoGP riders are ready to return to racing after the unexpected hiatus caused by the postponement of the April 17 Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.
The Japanese round of the MotoGP World Championship was put on hold following the devastating tsunami and earthquake that hit the Sendai region of Japan. The race has been provisionally rescheduled for October.
Four weeks after the rain-plagued Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez de la Frontera the MotoGP World Championship resumes on the Estoril Circuit not far from the Atlantic coast northwest of the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, historically a setting of changing weather conditions.
The postponement had the unintended consequence of allowing Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) to have further surgery on the left collarbone that was damaged during practice for last October's Japanese Grand Prix. Pedrosa was operated on soon after a gutsy second place finish in difficult conditions in the first of his four home races at Jerez de la Frontera. With the operation more than three weeks ago, Pedrosa has been able to both rest and then begin the recovery process in advance of this weekend's race in Estoril.
Second in the MotoGP World Championship, Pedrosa heads to Estoril ready to race on a track where he's been on the podium two of the last three years. Though one of the slowest tracks on the calendar, the track presents a challenge to riders, with slow and fast corners, which require physical strength to negotiate. The race will certainly put Pedrosa's arm to the test.
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V) is anxious to get back to racing after beating knocked down while running second to Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) on the eighth of 27 laps in Jerez. Stoner was on the move when Valentino Rossi (Ducati) slid off in the first turn, taking Stoner with him. Stoner tried to re-join the race, but wasn't able to get his Honda RC212V fired.
It was the lone black mark on what has been an impressive start to the season for Stoner, who began the year by dominating testing and followed it up with a brilliant victory in the season-opener under the lights in Qatar.
The third member of the Repsol Honda team, Andrea Dovizioso, would also like to forget about his Jerez weekend, when tyre and traction control problems ruined his race, and think about the future. The past has been good to Dovizioso in Portugal, with a win a two seconds in the 250cc class. Last year he won a tense battle for third to take his seventh podium of the 2010 season.
The rider Dovizioso narrowly defeated in last year's race in Estoril was Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V). Simoncelli made steady progress through his rookie MotoGP season, culminating in a fourth place-the gap to Dovi was .059s-in Estoril, his best finish of the season. Simoncelli continued the steep learning curve this year and was leading his first MotoGP race in Jerez when he crashed out of the lead on the 12th lap. The disappointment of the crash was tempered by the progress he and the team have made, and they want to continue that in Estoril, where "Super Sic" won the 250cc race in 2009.
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) came within less than half a second of his first MotoGP podium in Jerez. The top Japanese rider proved his ability to negotiate difficult conditions while others fell by the wayside. Had the race run for one more lap, or even a few more corners, he certainly would have joined Pedrosa on the podium.
Toni Elias (LCR Honda MotoGP) returns to the scene of his greatest triumph. Elias made the 2006 MotoGP race an instant classic by holding off world champion Valentino Rossi by .002s, with former world champion Kenny Roberts Jr. a close third. The fourth rider on the lead second was two-time World Superbike champion Colin Edwards. If there's a track where Elias hopes to regain that magic, this is it.
With Elias vacating his Moto2 World Championship, a few riders have been quick to fill the void. Andrea Iannone (Speed Master, Suter) hasn't let downfield qualifying efforts spoil his races. Sixteenth on the grid in Qatar, he finished second. Eleventh in Spain, he won the race.
Two other Moto2 riders have challenged Iannone's for the top spot in the class. Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing, Kalex) had a shocking runaway win in the season-opener in Qatar. He followed it up with a fifth in Spain. Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2, Suter) has been a consistent third and second in the first two races, having qualified third in both Qatar and Jerez.
Estoril is a track of 4182m with 13 corners, nine rights and four lefts, with the longest straight of just under a kilometre. One of the slowest tracks of the year, the technical track demands compromises in chassis set-up, with a mix of fast and slow corners, which have different demands and makes the track less than an ideal circuit for MotoGP. The heavy acceleration out of the slow corners favors the Honda RC212V, but it also puts pressure on fuel consumption, though that hasn't been an issue with the Honda riders. The track also has one of the best approaches to the finish line on the calendar. The looping Parabolica turn 13 right hander feeds onto the front straight, with the finish line far enough down the track to give riders a chance to make a dramatic draft-pass at the stripe.
Set near the Atlantic coast of Portugal, and only 28kms from Lisbon, the track suffers from the unpredictability of the weather and high winds that blow dust onto the track. It's a certainty that at some point wind and rain will sweep in off the ocean, but the uncertainty of the weather is what keeps the racing interesting and challenging and rewards the best prepared.
The first MotoGP race was held at Estoril in 2000, with this being the 12th running. Unlike some races, which are fixtures on the calendar, Estoril hasn't found a consistent date and runs in either the spring or fall. Last year's race was run on the final day of October. The year before it was early in October. In 2008 it was on April 13. Where it ends up in the future is anyone's guess.
HONDA MotoGP RIDER QUOTES
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa says:
"I did what I had to do in these three weeks off and I look forward to get back on the bike after this period which has been good for me to undergo surgery and start rehabilitation. Last week I had the stitches removed, so everything is still very fresh and I don't know how I will feel in Estoril, but I'm excited to see if everything went well and if I can put the issues aside once on the bike. It would be very good because we had a good start to the season and I wish to compete in the best conditions. I want to make the most of the four practice sessions to prepare for the race. It would help if we have good weather, as this year we race in April, but you can never trust the weather there having the Atlantic Ocean so close. With regards to the circuit, Estoril has heavy braking zones and it will be important to find traction to take advantage of the good acceleration we have."
Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner says:
"I had a good rest in Switzerland and I feel very good at the moment. I'm looking forward to Portugal after a difficult last race in Jerez. We were looking for a good result in Spain after positive practice sessions and qualifying so we are happy to get back on track. Estoril is not one of my favourite tracks, but we have had good success there in the past. We will be looking to get back some points against (Jorge) Lorenzo as he has been the strongest there in the past three years. I think our bike should work quite well at this circuit as it has some tight turns with exits onto big straights so I hope to find some good traction in these points and be competitive from the first day."
Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso says:
"I am looking forward to the race in Estoril, it's a track where I have had very good results in my career. I arrive motivated, and want to get back to form after the Jerez weekend with a good race and to show the results of all the positive work done with the team. I think that we will be competitive at Estoril. The circuit is very slow and it's not the best to ride with a MotoGP machine. In fact, one of the more difficult tasks is to manage the power of the RC212V on this slow track. We will have four practice sessions to work on the set-up and it's important to start well from the first day. After this long break, I'm happy to return on track. I have enjoyed this period at home with my family, having time to relax but also time to dedicate to training and to do the preparation of the coming races. Now it's time to jump on the bike".
San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli says:
"I still have a bitter taste in my mouth from Jerez. I was having a great race and the crash obviously wasn't what I wanted, it was a real shame. I know I will have the chance to make up for it though, because I know I am fast and have a good feeling with a competitive bike. I have made progress and so has the team. We are getting on better and better and I am sure we will soon be celebrating together because everything is in place. It has been a long break and I have had time to go with my friends and 'finish off the ski season' before getting into some serious training ahead of Estoril. I had my best result of last season in Portugal and just missed out on the podium so this time I want to be on it. I like the track a lot; I won there in 250cc in 2009 and was on the podium the previous season. I am confident we can have a good weekend."
San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Hiroshi Aoyama says:
"The result at Jerez was an important confidence boost for me. The conditions were particularly difficult, but I managed to keep things under control from lap to lap. My only regret is that I was a little too careful with my overtaking in the early stages of the race, otherwise I could have been on the podium, but overall I am happy. Apart from a crash in the dry we established a good feeling with the bike and that gives me high hopes for Estoril. I have stayed in Europe over the break and just trained hard for the next race. Estoril is not an easy circuit because of the unpredictable weather conditions. The wind is a real problem and unexpected rain showers can make things really difficult. Hopefully this weekend it stays nice."
LCR Honda MotoGP rider Toni Elias says:
"Well, this break was a bit long and I am happy to be back on track, especially on this circuit where I have experienced an unforgettable victory in 2006. We had plenty of time to check the data and I am hoping to find a better set up in Portugal because I am eager to bounce back after a difficult beginning. I am bit worried about the weather. I would prefer a dry race, but the proximity to the ocean is always a gamble."
Moto2 RIDER QUOTES
Speed Master, Suter, rider Andrea Iannone says:
"The season has started well for us, so we are very happy. The team is doing a great job and we were on the podium at the first two races, and we know that consistency is so important. But everything isn't yet perfect. We have had a few issues with the bike in dry conditions, so during the few weeks away from racing we have had meetings with Suter to make things even better than they already are."
Interwetten Paddock Moto2, Suter, rider Thomas Luthi says:
"We have already shown that we have a good pace, though it looks like the pace has already picked up a bit since the start of the season. So far we have had two good results and we have been in the top four or five in every session and that's where we want to be. I really think that we are ready to fight in the front group all the way through the season, though it won't be easy. There's a lot of hard work and hard racing ahead of us."
Viessmann Kiefer Racing, Kalex, rider Stefan Bradl says:
"Jerez was a shame. Because I had never ridden the Kalex in the wet, we did not have the ideal set-up, but fifth was OK. Now I try to fight for the title. So far (Andrea) Iannone is the strongest rival. He won three races last year, is very fast in the rain and a real fighter. But I am convinced I can give him a real run for his money in the dry. My confidence is very high, the gaps to second place in qualifying were a surprise and are a result of my improved riding, better teamwork and the feeling to have 100 percent support from the chassis manufacturer, which I did not have last season."